Earlier this month, I made one of the biggest gaffs in my professional career. Thankfully, it related to my own agency and not a client account but nevertheless, it wasn’t my finest moment.

As the whole saga unfolded (don’t worry I’ll come onto that), I couldn’t help but think about how there aren’t many blogs out there by people talking about mistakes. Most content (mine included) is generally focused on best practice, tips and ways to improve… which is great but with this blog I thought I’d do the exact opposite.

As hard as they are to admit, I’m going to share with you my three biggest professional mistakes. Not because I feel the need for a public therapy session, but because after each, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson. And each of these lessons have changed my resulting behaviour. So hopefully as a busy professional, you won’t follow in my footsteps!

The social error…

Given what we do at ramarketing, it’s normal for me to have access to multiple social media accounts for companies and individual clients. For one individual client, I help to manage their personal LinkedIn profile.

Some time ago, I posted some news on LinkedIn from what I thought was my account. In fact, I posted it from my client’s account. Normally, this would not be a huge deal except what I posted was essentially my client endorsing and supporting the main competitor of her biggest client. Ouch. The post was seen by all the people I really wish had not seen it. Nevertheless, with a swift and wholehearted apology, the issue was thankfully resolved (let’s not mention my mini breakdown in the middle of a busy London tube station as the drama unfolded though).

The learning?

Be careful when you’re working at speed. We all seem to work at a million miles per hour these days but just get into the habit of doing a final, PROPER check before you post or send something.

The email error…

I suspect many of you have done this one. Copying someone into an email that the message was about. A few years ago, that’s exactly what I did. Sending someone some info about a person and their business, I farcically copied said person in. Again, I didn’t realise immediately (in fact the person receiving the email notified me of the blunder). But as soon as I did, that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach burst to life. Again, thankfully it wasn’t me bitching or anything but was more about treading carefully. Nevertheless, a schoolboy error.

The learning?

Don’t ever put anyone’s name into an email field if you have no intention of sending them an email. In addition, don’t put the name of anyone in the fields until the email is fully written and ready to go. Something I practice every day now.

The almighty error…

And here we are. The gaff that inspired this blog. There’s no easy way to sugar-coat this baby. Ready for this? I transferred £100k… to the wrong sort code. I know. What a fool.

As soon as I realised, I spent days on the phone to the bank and generally fretting. It was awful. Especially after being told there was a chance the money might never return. And then miraculously (as the sort code was just one digit out), the money arrived where it was originally intended to arrive a week or so later. Thank the lord.

The learning?

Do not continue working when you are tired and overwhelmed. This happened at 9pm at night after a full day working. And despite even joking to my wife: “Imagine if I sent this to the wrong account?” That’s exactly what I did. Your attention to detail and energy is depleted at some point in the day. Walk away, take a break or come back tomorrow. Most things can wait.

And the moral of this story?

Mistakes happen when you’re feeling overworked and overstretched. Take a step back. Focus on what you’re good at. Trust in your team to own their areas of expertise. All of these mistakes happened when I was juggling too much or working ridiculous hours, only natural for an owner/manager of an agency right? The thing is, I can manage my own mistakes, but it wouldn’t be fair to penalise my team if they’d done the same after setting these expectations. That’s why here at ramarketing, we’re working hard to obtain that elusive work/life balance – don’t worry, I practice what I preach by ensuring no staff member is ever at their desk come 6pm (unless there’s a very good reason and they have a beer in hand).

So there it is. A few belting gaffs by yours truly. Nobody’s perfect, especially not me. $hit happens as they say. But learning from mistakes and failure is all you can do to progress and improve in life.